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Governor declares state of emergency concerning propane

Published 6:31pm Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gov. Robert Bentley on Thursday declared a State of Emergency for all Alabama counties due to the threat of a propane gas shortage because of the extreme winter weather in Alabama.

Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow said this was especially important for local poultry farmers who need the propane to keep their poultry houses heated.

“I was contacted by several Franklin County chicken farmers who were very concerned about the possibility of a shortage in propane because of the extremely cold temperatures we will be having for the next week or more,” Morrow said.

“This is of great concern to them because those who have chicken houses, especially ones where there are baby chicks, have to keep the temperature inside those houses at 90 degrees or the chickens could die.

“This could be absolutely devastating to our local poultry farmers and those across the state.”

After hearing from several local farmers, Morrow said he contacted Alabama’s commissioner of agriculture, John McMillan, to discuss options for making sure propane remained available.

“I appreciate Commissioner McMillan listening to my concerns as well as the concerns of other representatives,” Morrow said.

“We appreciate the governor taking all of this into consideration in his emergency declaration.”

The emergency declaration enables the governor to invoke various emergency preparedness measures, including Alabama’s price gouging law.

It will also suspend the rules and regulations regarding the purchase and sale of propane gas directed by the propane gas industry, and allow propane tank owners to purchase propane from any company that sells it.

To help with the supply and demand of propane gas, the State of Emergency will lift the federal transportation motor carrier laws and allow greater flexibility in the delivery to homes, schools and businesses.

“With life threatening cold temperatures expected once again, it is important for Alabamians to have the necessary heating resources available for survival,” Bentley said.

“This State of Emergency will help Alabamians have an uninterrupted supply of propane gas and other home heating fuels during this period of winter weather.”

Lisa F. Fountain, executive director of the Alabama Propane Gas Association (APGA) said certain areas are dealing with delivery issues because of increased demands.
“I want consumers to understand there is not a shortage of propane gas,” Fountain said.

“What there is, is a logistical problem with transportation.”

Fountain said out-of-state trucks filling tankers in Alabama for deliveries to other areas have created a backlog at the state’s two distribution centers.

Those problems may be reduced by a Federal declaration issued Wednesday that eased restrictions on propane delivery trucks.

Alabama Farmers Federation staff, along with Fountain, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries officials and Alabama Poultry & Egg Association leaders met with members of Gov. Robert Bentley’s staff Wednesday to discuss the propane situation.

“The Alabama Propane Gas Association is working with us to help farmers whose local supplier may be unable to deliver to their farms,” said Federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan.

“Residential, commercial, poultry, schools, government offices – it doesn’t matter what it is, we are going to go out of our way to make sure we don’t run out of propane at these locations in the state of Alabama,” Fountain added.

Agriculture Commissioner John McMillian said he appreciates the cooperative spirit of those trying to help farmers.

“I am concerned about the effects the cold weather in Alabama is having on farmers and agribusinesses across the state,” McMillian said.

“Our department is working with the Farmers Federation, the Alabama Poultry & Egg Association and the APGA to find a solution to the immediate increased need for propane by so many producers.”

According to the Alabama Farmers Federation, poultry is a $15 billion industry in Alabama. The state ranks third nationally in broiler production and 14th in egg production.

Farmers concerned about their supply should contact APGA at 334-358-9590.

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